Why Butternut Recovery?

Butternut trees in Eastern Ontario and across their entire natural range in North America are under attack by the Butternut Canker Disease.This is a deadly fungal disease that has attacked almost all Butternut trees found in Eastern Ontario regardless of their age or size.  There is no known cure for the disease but some trees appear to be more tolerant than others, just as some people seem to be more resistant to human illness than others.  Butternut is classified as an endangered species under the Ontario Endangered Species Act (ESA 2007).  It is illegal to harm or kill a Butternut tree without a permit.

Why are Butternuts important to the forests of Eastern Ontario?

The Butternut (Juglans cinerea) is a native tree species that has co-existed as part of the Eastern Ontario forests for thousands of years.  It grows across southern Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.  The presence of Butternut is important for several historical, ecological, economic and medicinal reasons:

Main Features of the Eastern Ontario Butternut Recovery Program:

Preliminary Results After Five Years:

Colleagues in Ontario’s Butternut Recovery Program:

Future Work:

Butternut Recovery Outlook:

Butternut Recovery is making encouraging progress in Eastern Ontario.

Through the program, we have made hundreds of site visits to assess the health of Butternut trees and created a database of individual Butternut trees showing signs of tolerance. We have collected and planted over 15,000 seeds from healthy trees to grow seedlings for out-planting into various locations and environments across Eastern Ontario.  Related activities include scion collection, grafting and planting, assisting landowners as stewards of young Butternuts, species at risk remediation through MNR permits and several promising areas of Butternut research.

The Butternut Recovery story is a mixture of high and low technology working hand in hand to increase our chances of heading off a Butternut disaster in the forests of Eastern Ontario. The various parts of the recovery program are well underway with out-planting of seedlings from tolerant Butternuts across much of the Eastern Ontario region. The health of the young seedlings and their tolerance to the disease will be monitored over the next few years.

More Information:

An excellent source of Butternut information is Butternut Tree, A Landowner’s Resource Guide which was written by the Butternut Recovery Partners including OMNR Central Ontario Stewardship Coordinators and the Forest Gene Conservation Association with support from the OMNR Species at Risk Stewardship Fund and Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Fund. You can view it here.

October 2013